My 79-year-old mother recently quit her Torah study group. After listening to someone natter on for 20 minutes about a doctrinal detail that she found offensive, she stood up and announced, "I love you all, but you're totally misguided." Then she walked out.
When he heard this story, my son said, "Grandma's getting kind of cranky, isn't she?" He's right -- my mother has far less tolerance for inanity, along with dim lighting, bad weather, and most technology (with the exception of Pandora, which delivers a non-stop stream of classic country music for free, making it one of the great advances of the past 50 years).
I envy her frankness. I still have to listen politely to people I dislike; I rarely get the option of walking away. If my son told his math teacher she was misguided, he'd get hauled to the principal's office.
But do people actually get crabbier with age? I've seen "lack of self-censorship" attributed to changes in aging brain tissue, low testosterone levels ("grumpy old man syndrome"), feelings of helplessness and late-life depression. Yet people over 65 are "happier and more satisfied" than other segments of the population, according to new findings from researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Buffalo.
Perhaps part of this satisfaction, which the study links to increased levels of trust, stems from the ability to finally say what's on your mind without fear of consequence. Have older people simply learned to focus on their own priorities instead of bowing to the demands of others?
Whatever the reason, I'm looking forward to my own crank-aissance. Annoying clients, local politicians and aggressive salespeople better watch out.
As for my mom, while she later apologized for her outburst, she wasn't sorry to have moved on. She literally didn't have time for that. And why should she?
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